Llangollen’s stream in the sky and the castle in the clouds

February 20, 2015 Off By ProAdventure

800px-ChirkCastle1bLast week we posted the list of walks on offer over the three days of the Llangollen Walking Festival being held in May. Thought we’d look at one in a little more detail, but scrolling down the Festival agenda we realised we’re rather spoilt for choice.

But we’ve decided to look at the Chirk Castle walk on Monday 4th May.

The walk will kick off from the Courtyard Café off Castle Street at 8.30am when a mini bus will transport participants to the dramatic Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Welsh-English border. The trek proper starts from here by walking over the aqueduct 127 feet above the River Dee and then along the canal towpath.

The aqueduct is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and was built in 1805 by architects Thomas Telford and William Jessop. The aqueduct stands on 19 pillars above the River Dee. It is 1,007 feet long, 11 feet wide and 5.25 feet deep. The cast iron trough is supported above the river on iron arched ribs carried on 18 hollow masonry pillars. Each of the 19 spans is 53 feet wide.

Despite much public scepticism, Telford was confident the construction method would work having previously built one cast iron trough aqueduct on the Shrewsbury Canal.

The aqueduct it was one of the first major feats of civil engineering undertaken by Telford and was opened in November 1805, having taken around ten years to design and build at a total cost of £47,000. At the time of its completion, the canal terminated at a wharf slightly to its north. A feeder to bring water from the Horseshoe Falls beyond Llangollen was completed three years later in 1808.

The walk will also visit Chirk Aqueduct in the beautiful Ceiriog Valley, and follow a section of Offa’s Dyke where it enters the grounds of Chirk Castle.

Now a National Trust property, Chirk Castle dates from 1310. A stark symbol of power, it was built during the reign of the conquering Edward I to subdue the last princes of Wales. Built on an outcrop above the meeting point of the rivers Dee and Ceiriog, the imposing silhouette of the castle was a brooding statement of English intent in these disputed lands.

Chirk Castle has over 480 acres of estate parkland, home to wild ponies, sheep, veteran trees and a beautifully preserved section of Offa’s Dyke. The estate is located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has also been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest as an important habitat for rare invertebrates, bats, fungi, and wild flowers.

The award-winning gardens cover 5.5 acres of manicured lawns, clipped yews, herbaceous borders, beautiful rose, shrub and rock gardens, and a wooded pleasure ground. The walk continues through the grounds with views of the castle, before heading off along part of the ancient Pilgrims Way to Llangollen, finishing with magnificent views over the Dee Valley.

The 12 mile, rather strenuous walk will end at the Canal Wharf Café between 4.00 and 4.30pm. At ProAdventure we highly recommend this walk in order to experience some of the most spectacular landscapes in North Wales.